Bring Back The Magic

Over the last ten years we have seen a dramatic shift in our society and it is important for us, as marketing and communications specialists, to look at associated human and cultural shifts. This will help us change our mind-set from selling stuff to connecting with people in meaningful ways. A lot of retail brands claim to be doing this. But are they really?

The birth of P.A.M.

Before we delve into the how, it is important to understand cultural shifts and people.  As coined by Howard Saunders, retail futurist, we are dealing with generation P.A.M.  Post Apocalypse Man (& woman) and signifies a shift in culture and rapidly changing brand expectations.  This has been driven by millennials, but has spread beyond a demographic and become a psyche shared by a growing number of people.

Who is P.A.M.? Well, P.A.M. is essentially a hipster who grew from the financial crash in 2008 - a time of instability globally and decreasing job security. P.A.M. turned away from the world their parents grew up in and looked to pave their own way. This gave P.A.M. the opportunity to create values unique to them and not a cut copy of past generations. 

One of the effects of this cultural shift is that we see people moving towards experience and local and community-focused brands. Essentially, they are turning away from ‘big business’ and championing the underdog / local / artisanal producer.  This means that the way we engage with people (not consumers!) needs to change, because people are done with the old status quo.

We have seen big retailers in major cities, such as NYC, London and LA, leverage these cultural shifts to build relationships with people. Nordstrom Local allows people to click and collect, and at the collection point there are baristas, dressing rooms, tailors and accessories. Club Monaco launched a clothing shop with a book store and café on site, with the ambition to be a lifestyle brand and give people a space they can truly enjoy.

Challenging the retailers of Ireland

In Ireland, we can all agree that the retail space is a little lacklustre. We have a mix of local and overseas retailers and the instore experience is stock standard and dull. The joy of shopping is all but gone. It may seem like we are missing a trick. While we may be a smaller market, Irish people love to shop.  A research study carried out by shows that we spend an average of 16 hours a week shopping* and it is considered one of our favourite past-times.  So, in the words of Howard Saunders - department stores and supermarkets need to give us reasons not just to go there, but to be there. 

I want to challenge the retailers of Ireland to be brave and give people something more; to ask themselves some questions - ​What are those experiences we are giving? ​Are we creating brands and communications that people want to be part of?  By having this rigorous checklist, we will not only improve results, we will also move shopping into a social ‘outing’ that people look forward to.  I for one want to enjoy shopping and not see it an arduous experience. 

Let’s bring back the retail magic!

Source: Howard Saunders /